Frequently Asked Questions
Is hydrogen safe?
Hydrogen is just as safe as any other transportation fuel (i.e. gasoline, diesel and natural gas). There is rigorous testing that is performed with the tanks including crash tests, and performance requirements. The composite materials that they are made of, is stronger than steel. As an example, testing mobile tanks are subjected to 4 x the certified maximum pressure. As a result, it is almost impossible to over-pressurise a vehicle fuel system, due to the strict criteria that they follow.
As with every fuel, safe handling practices are required but hydrogen is non-toxic and does not pose a threat to humans or environmental health, in the event of a leak. Hydrogen is lighter than air and as a result is 7 times safer than LPG.
If there is a hydrogen leak in a system, it dissipates quickly, preventing any build-up of hydrogen occurring. At no stage is there sufficient hydrogen in the air to cause a hazardous situation. An example of deliberately lighting a ruptured hydrogen fuel tank and a petrol tank, in two separate cars shows the inherent safety of hydrogen as compared to traditional gasoline-based fuels as demonstrated in the below video:
How sustainable is hydrogen?
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. Hydrogen is a source of energy from the sun. Once combined with air it produces energy and water. Sustainable or “green hydrogen” is the process of producing hydrogen and oxygen from water utilising renewable energy to drive the reaction. In the past, hydrogen for industrial applications has been produced via steam reforming of natural gas to produce hydrogen and CO2. This process produces a minimum of 3 tonnes of CO2 (greenhouse gas) emissions for every tonne of hydrogen produced. ANT has designed its systems to specifically produce green hydrogen with zero CO2 emissions.
How do you turn hydrogen into electricity?
There are multiple ways of turning hydrogen into electricity. These include:
- Co-generation with natural gas turbines
- Fuel cells
- Co-generation with coal
- Hydrogen combustion
ANT believes that the most sustainable approach is to utilise fuel cells, which has hydrogen and air as its feed and produces electricity and water. This process allows ANT to design closed-loop systems that go from water to water.
Fuel cells create a DC current that can be utilised in electric vehicles to power the electric motor. It can be designed to be utilised by existing inverters to create electrical power for domestic and industrial applications. Fuel cell technology allows systems to be designed from 5kW to multi-MWs. Current examples of fuel cells are 5kW back power to telecommunication towers; 30kW generators replacing diesel generators; 240kW to power the Alstrom hydrogen train replacing diesel trains; 30kW to 90kW for cars, busses and trucks for replacing petrol and diesel fuels; multi-megawatt fuel cells, helping form 24/7 sustainable microgrids replacing tradition fossil fuels. Fuel cells, therefore, have the ability to make hydrogen the future of dispatchable energy.
Can the water that is produced in the fuel cell be recycled?
The reaction between hydrogen and air in the fuel cell produces water and electricity. The water that is produced is pure, containing no contaminants and is equivalent to de-ionised water. This water is safe to drink and in ANT systems, is captured and re-used to feed back into the electrolyser to produce more hydrogen.
How are automotive companies addressing the need to de-carbonise?
Vehicles around the world are currently responsible for just under 1/3rd of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Automotive companies are cognitively aware of the need to address the world’s emissions and the role they play in that. To this end, all leading vehicle manufacturers are investigating and developing zero-emission vehicles. Further, several countries around the world including Germany, France, UK, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea have banned the usage of diesel cars by 2030 or 2040 respectively. Zero-emission vehicles are electric vehicles that are powered by electric motors. What is used to power these motors, can either be a battery or a fuel cell. Both of these technologies are being implemented by all major automotive companies around the world. The difference between a fuel cell electric vehicle and a battery electric vehicle is the speed of refuelling/charging and performance mileage. Fuel cells can be refuelled in the same way that a traditional gas car can be filled, taking between 3-7 minutes depending on the size of the tank. Battery vehicles require on average a minimum of 3 hours to complete recharge. Fuel cell vehicles have a range of 650-850kms per tank, whereas battery vehicles have a range between 300-500km per charge. Fuel cell vehicles have the capability of carrying heavier loads and tend to be lighter than battery vehicles. In the future, people’s choice will either be a fuel cell or battery electric vehicle as is the case currently between the selection of petrol and diesel-based vehicles.
What is the economic importance of hydrogen?
The production of green hydrogen is forecast to be over a trillion dollars by 2030 in Australia, based on hydrogen being used in energy, mobility, industry and export. For more details on the importance of the role that hydrogen will play in the Australian economy, please refer to the links below:
Chief Scientist Alan Finkel
CSIRO National Hydrogen Road Map
ACIL ALLEN Consulting- ARENA
Australia’s Chief Scientist: Briefing Paper: Hydrogen for Australia’s Future